Over clocking processors (CPU)

The term over clocking simply refers to running the system at a faster speed than specified by the manufacturer. When executed this process is not as simple as it sounds. Over clocking processor often involves what and how much you know about your system which also means understanding its limitation and all the subtle ways in which you can work around it.

Referring to some good online guides would not just give you good firsthand knowledge of the over clocking process but also give you a step-by-step guide to executing the process of over clocking. These guides will also help you in understanding your systems limitations and also how to work around them to gain the maximum output.

If you would like to understand what over clocking does to your system, simply know that over clocking processor can make it run at a faster speed than it is meant for. The additional speed means that the processor does more work than the manufacturer stated it would, this may be good initially but depending on your system and how you execute the over clocking process and how you maintain your system it can completely damage your system.

Over clocking processor may damage the CPU but not necessarily, however if you use extreme voltage to execute the over clocking process there is a strong likelihood that the system may get permanently damaged. People try over clocking their processors to gain some extra performance from their systems without having to pay for the price of the system with enhanced speed. This is not a bad idea as long as the process is properly executed and for that you gain not just the basic knowledge but also expertise in the process of over clocking.

Things that are involved

FSB

You overclock your system by simply raising the FSB (front side buss). This speed is set at 266 MHz The FSB is set at 200 MHz for the e4xxx series. Raising the FSB is the only way to overclock your system, unless it is an engineer sample chip or an X6800+ (Both of these have unlocked multipliers.)

Multiplier

To overclock your system by using the multiplier, you simply change that number to a higher number than its stock multiplier. For example an engineer sample chip E6300 has a multiplier of 7x, but you can change it to a higher value, say 9x. If you leave the FSB at 266, then 9×266 = 2400Mhz = 2.4Ghz.

RAM

By overclocking your CPU by upping the FSB, you also cause your RAM to be overclocked. But is that a bad thing? Yes and no. For cheap value RAM you can not overclock your RAM much at all. You would be lucky with 50-100Mhz. By simply changing your RAM/CPU divider you can adjust your RAM speed also. Typically a good stable overclock consists of the RAM and the CPU running at a 1:1 ratio. For example if your CPU’s FSB speed set to 400Mhz and your in a 1:1 ratio, then your RAM will show up as running at 400Mhz in the BIOS. Because it is DDR2 the RAM is actually running at 800Mhz effective, which is PC6400 stock speeds.

Socket 775 Motherboards usually support different types of DDR2 Memory. Motherboards natively support 533Mhz DDR2 all the way up to 800Mhz DDR2. It is possibly to run faster memory like DDR2-1000 and even higher like 1200Mhz, but this is only possibly by changing the CPU/RAM divider or overclocking the CPU via FSB.

When looking at RAM, and the speed of the RAM there are two things to take into account. What is the rated speed of the RAM? DDR2 memory typically ranges from 533Mhz to upwards of 1200Mhz. The memory frequency is not the only thing to look at when comparing the speed of RAM. The timings or latencies are also important.

Most value RAM has very “loose” latencies. 5-5-5-15 is quite common for value RAM. Mid end RAM is usually somewhere around 4-4-4-12. Mid-High end RAM has timings like 4-4-3-5 or 4-4-3-8. High end RAM will have low latencies like 3-4-3-9. The most important number is the first number. The lower the first digit the faster the memory.

By default, most motherboards will set the RAM timings to 5-5-5-15, so it is necessary to go into the BIOS and change these timings to the timings recommended by the manufacturer.

Loosening up your RAM timings will allow for a higher overclock. For example if your memory is rated at 4-4-4-12 and is PC6400 and runs at 800Mhz, then “loosening” the timings to 5-5-5-15, might allow for an overclock of upwards of 900Mhz. While at the stock 4-4-4-12, 850Mhz was achievable.

On some motherboards, like my Gigabyte DS3P, all the memory latencies and voltages are locked by default. To view these advanced settings in your BIOS, I pressed Ctrol+F1. This unlocked a hidden menu with advanced features.

Monitoring temperatures

There is a handful of software out there that will allow you to monitor the temps of your CPU. Probably the most trusted program is called TAT (Thermal Analysis Tool) and can be downloaded directly from Intel. It usually gives accurate readings for most Core 2 Duo CPU’s. It measures the temperature of both CPU cores and this data can be monitored by TAT.

Intel recommends that the temperature of both CPU cores does not exceed 60C. The general rule of thumb I follow however is I like to stay under 65C max load, because I know in every day applications I will never even come close to reaching 60C. Gaming, encoding and other tasks never fully max out both CPU cores at 100% full load like Orthos does.

Software needed:

To safely overclock, you will need some sort of CPU monitoring program. I personally recommend TAT. Other programs such as Gigabytes Easy Tune, can be terribly off. I had Easy tune at one time reporting negative temps, while on air cooling.